flower looks like an advert for washing detergent, and feels like a tech demo.

User Rating: 5 | flower PS3


i know it's heresy among gamers to say that flower is a boring and uninspired game, but i really do think it is and i'll try to describe why.

first of all, let me say that i quite like playing flower in short bursts here and there, but it brings me nothing beyond that; no long lasting feelings or emotions, no ideas to contemplate, nothing at all. its empty and restrictive virtual space is a perfect analogy for the vacant space in my heart and mind when i play this game.

first of all, the graphics and music. yes, it looks very pretty at first glances, they got the grass moving fairly nicely and the game has really nice cloud effects and bloom to make it look sunny. the flowers seem procedurally animated and life-like at first.

when you begin to move the controller around, there is a nice feeling of weightlessness and spaciousness that very few games have explored. you blow the wind against some petals with the 'X' button, and then tilt the controller as if it were a big D-pad. the controls work, and they feel quite natural for such an odd motion device.

as i move around the space and touch petals they give off a hum; at first it sounds quite nice, but then grows to be very pretentious when hums are replaced by what sound like the sounds of angels singing.
the objective of the game is to collect petals which then unlocks more areas. this pernicious and ancient game structure combined with the illusion of freedom and sensitivity the graphics and sound give are what i have a problem with.
flower tricks the player into believing they are in a beautiful, naturalistic space full of mystery. the player belivies that they have the freedom to move without barriers. but you only need to play flower for a few minutes to notice that nearly everything is a sham.
for a start, everything is too 'perfect' and looks like an advert for washing powder. each blade of grass impeccably cut in a mechanically precise manner, all flowing about in too much of an exaggerated manner to be sincere to the faults of nature itself. even the petals and the cliffs and rocks just appear far too much like background objects out of a low-budget pixar movie, than real, eroding, worn rocks.
this illusion extends to everything else as well. the wind is not natural wind - it's often just the game designers behind the curtain, pushing you away from moving too freely, until you've collected all the petals. since when does wind act like this? and what is new or different about a collecting mechanic masked as pretty flowers?

from the begining to the end, the game is self-pitying, takes itself too seriously, tries way too hard to be poetic, and ends up falling on its face because the game structure is completely at odds with the philosophical, conceptual ideas. the game designers treat the player like a sheep, herding them to the exit while trying to bleed 'emotion' out of players like water from a stone.

flower is just embarassing, soulless, bereft of any artistic value, and generally condesending to the presence of the player. that said, i think the flying mechanic in the game has a lot of promise for any future projects.